Just got back from a lovely dinner at El Jarro (the corner of 45th St. and 48th Ave in Sunnyside).
I really liked the scallop ceviche. It was fresh and bright-tasting and well-balanced. Perfect for a hot summer evening. In an earlier posting, someone had mentioned that the chef had culinary training. This was evident in the expert chopping of all the ingredients (scallops, avocado, peppers, onions, cilantro). Everything was cut to a uniform small dice with a very sharp knife, giving each forkful a very lively texture.
We also had an excellent tamale verde. Moist and fluffy with a nice sweet corn flavor. HLing claimed it was the best tamale she'd ever had.
Her cecina taco was notably fresh and beefy-tasting.
I thought the mole sauce on my chicken enchilada was a little on the sweet side (HLing disagreed), but the chicken itself was moist and tasty (dark meat--yay!). Rice and beans, usually and afterthought, were excellent. Fluffy, toothsome rice, with a nice fresh garlic flavor. Creamy beans with depth.
I'm a fan of the bland sliminess of nopales (cactus petals), so I liked my tostada topped with grilled nopales. Grilling brought out a nice smokiness.
I would have welcomed a little more spiciness overall, but didn't miss it a lot because everything was so good and fresh. Made me realize that I sometimes pour the hot sauce on in order to compensate for a dish's mediocrity.
Dessert was an excellent tres leches cake, topped with finely diced fresh fruit (strawberry, mango and kiwi). I usually like to keep my fruit and dessert separate, but these went together beautifully.
Service was good, and incredibly fast. The space is cool and airy, even without AC, and has just the right amount of 'decor' (exposed brick walls, some nice lighting fixtures) to distinguish it from a lot of other neighborhood joints, but not so much that you feel like it's trying too hard.
The two of us ate very well indeed for $23. And we were the only people there on a Friday night. Please check this place out. They're worthy, and they could use the business.
My only gripe, and it's a pretty big one, was the soundtrack. When we arrived, the stereo was playing some kind of Spanish/rap/reggae music, which I kind of liked. Shortly after we sat down, they cranked up the volume and switched the radio to WKTU, which seemed to mostly be obnoxious commercials, inane call-in contests and pranks, and the worst music I can imagine. It was like being trapped in the aerobics room at Bally's Total Fitness. I should have requested they change the station. Next time.